Signs of a dysfunctional family may be hidden

Signs of a dysfunctional family may clear to everyone, or they may be so subtle you’d never guess from the outside that members are hurting. Lovely quiet voices can actually hide menace and threats. If you have to suppress your feelings, you’re not in a happy family. And worse, you may feel it’s your fault. You may feel that your mom or dad or sister is wonderful, and you’re the problem. Here are 10 signs that reveal when families don’t have healthy relationships.

Are people keeping secrets to keep the peace

Much has been written about dysfunctional families. At times it may seem that every family has its unhealthy elements. To understand what is actually family dysfunction, we need to examine it on a scale of 0 (no family dysfunction) – 10 (horribly sick). At times all families may experience some dysfunction, but this does not mean the family is unhealthy.

Signs of a dysfunctional family reveal 10 characteristics

Dysfunction families have symptoms that keep everyone sick. If your family demonstrates a number of these characteristics, it reveals a dysfunctional system. You may be hurting and in need of self awareness and tools to recover.

1. Physical Abuse/Sexual abuse/Emotional Abuse or Neglect

This is the most significant problem demonstrated by sick family systems, either by abuse or by neglect. Abuse indicates active harm such as a parent sexually molesting a child, while neglect is inactive harm, such as not attending to a child’s needs of feeding, bathing, or giving love and attention.

2. Denial/Secrets/Lies

This category relates to such conditions as trying to hide a substance use problem, or that Dad and/or mom has a rage or other problem. Keeping secrets about what’s happening may be denial or outright lying. As is well established, “secrets keep us sick.” We can’t get healthy when we can’t tell the truth.

3. Addictions

Addictions such as alcohol and drug addictions, as well as process addictions such as gambling or sexual addictions, are prevalent in dysfunctional families. read more


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Haley Laferney
Haley Laferney is the Graphic Designer at Reach Out Recovery and a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design. She is also a gold and silver ADDY award winner.

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